“Isn’t that something! Magnificent sight out here.”

Fifty years ago today, the Apollo 11 mission saw the first two humans – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – land on the surface of the moon (whilst Michael Collins, remaining on the command module overhead, momentarily experienced a solitude unparalleled as he disappeared, alone, in orbit round the dark side of the moon and out of contact and sight of every other known living creature).

Most of us here in the University Library were young children or but glints in our parents’ eyes. But we have many primary sources available to Durham staff and students to explore these and other momentous (infamous or obscure) events in our shared history. Snapshots of how they were reported, the views of those who observed or experienced them, the discussion, commentary or argument that followed.

Historic Newspapers Online

Earlier this year, Durham University Library expanded its access to our UK newspaper archives online with the purchase of the Proquest Historical Newspapers: Guardian and Observer Newspaper Archives 1791-2003 (we also purchased access to The Times of India Archives 1838-2010 and the South China Morning Post 1903-2000, also available via Proquest Historical Newspapers). This expands our coverage of the major UK national newspapers (which already included the archives of the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Financial Times and the Independent provided through Gale Primary Sources), adding to our broader digital collections that cover international, national, regional and local titles from the mid 18th century to the present day.

All of these newspapers can be found on our Online Resources: Newspapers, News Services and Archives pages.

News reels, audio and video archives

Complementing our digital archives of historic newspapers, we provide access to various searchable collections of video, images and audio from a wide range of sources, including ITN and Reuters archives, British Movietone newsreels, and images and video from the collections of the Wellcome Trust Royal Geographical Society.

Our collections of digital audio and visual news archives, as well as collections of material only available on microform, can also be found on our Online Resources: Newspapers, News Services and Archives pages.

Included in our MediaPlus (formerly JISC Media Hub) subscription is original newsreel footage and audio recordings from several of the Apollo missions, as well as coverage of many other events from around the world.

ITV News: Moon Landings (Jul 1969)
Available through our Media Plus subscription to Durham University staff and students.

Research at Durham

Our extensive range of digital archives that we provide access to allow our staff and students to revisit and re-appraise these moments from our past. Meanwhile some of our researchers in our Institute for Computational Cosmology continue to use data from the experiments conducted by the Apollo missions. Our colleague at Durham Research Online reached out to them to ask about their lunar research, and Dr Vincent Eke (self-proclaimed “Lunar-Tech”) highlighted one recent publication, ‘Evidence for a localized source of the argon in the Lunar Exosphere’ (https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JE005352) (DRO Link)  .This used data from the LACE experiment left on the Moon by the final Apollo mission (supplemented by data from the more recent LADEE mission) to study argon in the Moon’s tenuous atmosphere.

Some longer-serving colleagues may also remember the apocryphal story of Sir George Malcolm Brown, Professor of Geology at Durham University (who was appointed as NASA Principal Investigator of the Apollo Moon expeditions and was invited to lead a team in examining some of the lunar rock samples returned by the Apollo 11 mission) – and how after the train he was travelling on from London (after an appearance on Tomorrow’s World) with the samples, broke down at Darlington, requiring him to proceed the final leg with a police escort.

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